“Who is Damien Hirst?” were the first words I heard upon arrival at the Tate.
This surprising question followed me up to the third floor; smugly amused and entertained I stumbled upon an enormous queue.
I have always known I shall never be quintessentially British since I do not share this past time with my fellow countrymen. Nevertheless I obliged, although the word soon changed to indulged since everything which was a remote scrap more interesting than the rest required a time to queue.
I realize now I only have myself to blame for my sheer despondency.
If only I’d registered the forewarning of pots and pans and card board boxes which served as an underwhelming welcome to the exhibition. *(Note to Damien, adding colour to your kitchenware does not make it interesting. Thank you.)
But still I continued through the maze of excitable people towards the stench. The stench of rotting animals.
Everywhere I looked, I was being watched by faces which perhaps had not seen for months, years, maybe. And here they stood, exposed and undignified for us all to stare at.
Sawed cow replaced the familiar seared beef. Nature’s beauteous butterflies adorned undeserving walls and schools of fish glared enviously at each onlooker.
Was I wrong in my preconceptions? Butterflies in my stomach I had expected to feel, a whale of a time I imagined I’d have and deliriously dotty I’d hoped to leave.
Instead I found myself empathizing with the flies, fighting for their lives. And as for the whales, ok they were sharks, but they too have seen better days, (including those spent on a plate). And as for feeling deliriously dotty, well, only once I’d made a mad dash for the exit, hopes of London’s fresh air and dreams of being swept far away with the April showers consumed me.
Had I stayed one moment longer I’m convinced I would have been driven to raid Damien’s very own medicine cabinet. Admittedly I would have been utterly spoilt for choice, lost amongst the abundant array of colourful pills, or better yet, the surgical instrument section – very-tempting-indeed.
Anyway! On reflection I’m sure if I’d entered from the exit I would have had a much better time. Had I the choice, my preference would always be a welcome of diamonds over kitchenware and colour over death. And so what, if I would have had to make a detour to the gift shop – at least I might have actually wanted to buy something.
And so my thoughts return to, “Who is Damien Hirst?”.
…I can’t help thinking that the real question they should be asking is, “who does he think he is?”!